Babich homers twice, Aspen downs Basalt |

Babich homers twice, Aspen downs Basalt

Jon MaletzThe Aspen TimesAspen, CO Colorado
Jim Ryan/Special to The Aspen TimesAspen's Walker Moriarty delivers a pitch Tuesday at Basalt High School. The Skiers topped the rival Longhorns, 10-5.

BASALT – Aspen head baseball coach Nate Grinzinger figured it was only a matter of time before Zack Babich broke out.”I was saying to [assistant coach] Brett Folske on the ride [to Basalt on Tuesday], ‘I think he’s going to pop one soon,'” Grinzinger said. “He’s been hitting the ball really hard lately. … If he gets a hold of one, it’s going to go.”Coach was right. Babich, playing his first season with the Skiers and first since he was an eighth grader in Florida, made quite an impact against the rival Longhorns. He homered twice Tuesday – to cap a four-run first, then in the sixth to help Aspen regain momentum after a Basalt rally. The Skiers scored four runs in the sixth, capitalized on multiple Longhorns miscues and pulled out a 10-5 victory.”That was a first,” Babich said of his performance. “It was amazing. There’s no other way to explain it.”Longhorns starter Blake Scherer appeared poised to hold the Skiers to just two runs in the top half of the first. After Taylor Mayer opened with a ringing double to center field and scored on a double steal, and Quinn Morehead reached on an error and scored on another Longhorns miscue, Scherer induced two quick flyouts. Babich made Scherer pay for a poorly located fastball, however, depositing the pitch well beyond the fence in right center.Aspen stretched its lead to six with a run in the third and fourth innings – on Christian De La Cruz’s single and an error. That cushion appeared to be more than enough for Skiers starter Chris Dreher, who retired nine of the first 10 Longhorns he faced.Things took a turn in the fourth, however. Scherer broke up the no-hit bid, leading off with a double to center. He was one of four straight Basalt players to reach – all of them scored. The Longhorns compiled four hits and pushed across two runs on Skiers errors.”I think it was his pitch total,” Grinzinger said of Dreher. “His pitch total got high, and he lost his accuracy.”Scherer scored on a double steal in the fifth to trim the Longhorns’ deficit to one. That run likely should have tied the game. Earlier in the inning, Hector Morales reached second on an error, then was waved home by first-year head coach Craig Frederick on Scherer’s single up the middle. Aspen center fielder Quinn Morehead came up firing and gunned down Morales at the plate. “He was a fast guy, and I thought he could get in there,” Frederick said. “I should’ve held him up. I should’ve known better. … That could’ve been a difference.””I called a pitch-out with two strikes [on Scherer], and Dreher threw a strike,” Grinzinger added. “Quinn really stepped up. What a great throw.”Walker Moriarty relieved Dreher with two on and no outs in the fifth and managed to wiggle out of trouble after allowing just one run.The Skiers blew things open from there. Babich led off the sixth with another towering home run, then Leif Mosher scored on an error and Mayer was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. Moriarty stretched the lead to five with a run-scoring triple to the gap in left center.The Longhorns committed four errors in the sixth, and eight in the game.”Errors have been a big issue,” Frederick said. “We always get hit with one big inning.”Basalt loaded the bases on a walk, a hit batsman and an infield single in the bottom of the sixth, but Moriarty induced two flyouts and struck out Morales to end the threat. He retired three of four batters he faced in the seventh to preserve the win – Aspen’s second in nine games this season.Mayer, Dreher and Babich each had two hits for the Skiers, who travel to Olathe for a doubleheader Saturday. Scherer, Tanner Banc and Spencer Glosner compiled six hits and scored three runs for the Longhorns, who host Hotchkiss for a doubleheader Saturday (11 a.m. and 1 p.m.).”We take this as a positive note,” Babich said. “This is the start of our turnaround.”

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